10 Futuristic Construction Technologies

3-D Printed Houses
Ma Yihe (left) shows the 3D-printed walls for houses his company is building in Shanghai, China. His company plans to build 10 of these in a day. © Pei Xin/Xinhua Press/Corbis

3-D printing has finally gone mainstream. Makerbot is selling nifty (and just about affordable) desktop machines that can print out fully rendered 3-D plastic toys, jewelry, machine parts and artificial limbs. But what if you want to print something bigger than a shoebox? Could you actually build a 3-D printer large enough to print out a plastic house?

The answer is "yes." A Dutch architecture firm has launched an ambitious public art project to build a 3-D printed house. But first, they had to build one of the world's largest 3-D printers, called the Kamermaker or "room maker." Using the same plastic source material as small-scale 3-D printers, the Kamermaker can print out large LEGO-like plastic components that will be assembled into individual rooms of the house. The rooms will then lock together — again, think LEGO — with the printed exteriors of the home designed to look like a traditional Dutch canal house.

Meanwhile, a Chinese construction company is building houses using a giant 3-D printer that sprays layers of cement and construction waste to assemble the homes. The company says the houses will cost less than $5,000 each, and it can produce up to 10 of them in a day [source: Guardian].

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